New wave of foreign policy?
He came to bury Blairite foreign policy, not to praise it. He came to lament the "scars of ten years of government". He came to explain patiently how we all must learn (a word he used no fewer than six times) from the past. This was Tony Blair's former policy chief David Miliband speaking. Politics is a brutal business.
The foreign secretary's speech (read it here) proclaimed a "second wave of New Labour foreign policy" and was spun in advance as a significant break from what had come before.
But hang on a second. Beyond the words and beyond the carefully calibrated signals what has actually changed in British foreign policy?
Mr Milliband worried aloud that Muslims think, "we're seeking not to empower them but to dominate them". The lesson, he said, was, "that it's not good enough to have good intentions". Quite right, you might think. What, though, will that mean for policy? He didn't say beyond, that is, backing the age old British position that Turkey should be welcomed into the EU.
The foreign secretary declared that "there never is a military 'solution'". Did that mean he didn't back any of the four Blair wars? No, he made clear he had backed them and still did. So, what did it mean? Well, he went on, we need to work with all the neighbours of Iraq. So too said Tony Blair.
He did talk of stronger international institutions - or what Gordon Brown has talked of as a "new world order" - without spelling out what they were.
Now, it may be that David Miliband could not say what he really thinks. It could be that his message was that with him and Gordon running foreign policy there'll be no more wars, no more messianic rhetoric about spreading democracy, no more bypassing of the UN. Or it could be that that's the impression he wants to create with voters who left Labour in protest at the Iraq war.
The lesson of the first wave of New Labour foreign policy is that it was shaped by events and was best assessed by what ministers actually did and not the speeches they gave. The same, I suspect, is true of the second wave.
UPDATE, 03:30 PM: Before he became prime minister, Gordon Brown talked of building "a new diplomacy in the next few years to build better institutions".
He went on to say that, "the American alliance we have, the European cooperation we welcome and are going to strengthen in the years to come, and our role in the Commonwealth are the basis on which we move forward - but I believe that there is a collective interest that the world can be persuaded of, in the United Nations playing a bigger role in security, Nato playing a bigger role out of theatre, and also the European Union as a collective institution playing a fuller role in world politics."